Relic used to make some absolute corkers, huh? They've finally found their way back in the spotlight with Age Of Empires VI, but if you were kicking about the RTS space in the 00s, they were akin to gods. Between Homeworld's space opera spectacle and Warhammer 40k: Dawn Of War's grimdark bombast, they somehow found time to make a little series of down-to-earth tactics games about the greatest tragedy in modern history. Company Of Heroes 2, the high point of their World War 2 operations, is free to download this weekend. Likewise, the rest of the wartime franchise has been cut to a quarter of the cost 'til Sunday evening.
While contemporaries like Starcraft focussed on high-speed memorisation and counter-play, Relic's games always felt a little more manageable. Whether on the muddy fields of 1940s France or the blood-soaked hellscapes of the 41st Millenium, capturing resource notes was key to both powering your war machine and gaining intel on the field.
Company Of Heroes was even more granular. Supply lines, resource types and battle lines meant you could deliver some punishing blows by being in the right place at the wrong time. Cover, unit formation and vehicle facing could also mean the difference between a grand push and an embarrassing bloodbath.
Oh, I've had a grand old time on Company Of Heroes 2's battlefields. I used to play it with uni pals who grew into grognards far too early, spilling technical deets of every last tank, rifle and shell as they manoeuvred around the battlefield.
Personally, I just played the yanks and built the biggest, baddest rocket tank. Can't take cover if the cover's not there.
While Dawn Of War would get weirder (and worse) and Homeworld would be handed off to another studio for a spin-off and a sequel, Company Of Heroes 2 is oddly frozen in time. It's Relic at their best, and it's worth picking up.
If you download Company Of Heroes 2 on Steam between now and Sunday at 6pm (UK time), it's yours. No catch. There's also a franchise-wide sale on the rest of the wartime strategy series, including all of COH2's expansions and its predecessor.